GSC's promising-looking survival FPS S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow Of Chernobyl has been pushed back again, with THQ now hoping to release the game in late spring 2005.
The Ukrainian-developed PC shooter was originally earmarked for a September 2004 release, but it was evident during the game's first press demonstration that the game was a long way from completion and it came as no surprise when the game slipped out of this year - originally reasoned to be a strategic manoeuvre to avoid the Doom III and Half-Life 2 effect, but now evidently a more technical set of issues, with a statement posted on a German THQ forum half-heartedly stating that the game has been postponed even further to "test the complex game world and all of its facets".
"The dynamic life simulation system has become better than the developers expected," the spokesperson added. "Unfortunately, this also results in the time invested in testing becoming much longer than initially planned. I am glad that THQ does not release the title under time pressure, but offers the necessary time that the development requires, so that GSC can live up to the high expectations." Let's hope the extra time is put to good use.
Already in development for around three years, S.T.A.L.K.E.R is GSC Gamewold's debut first person shooter (being famed for strategy games such as Cossacks, bizarrely), and looked promising from the brief play test we were treated to ten months ago.
However, at that stage none of the levels were finished, the AI wasn't yet properly implemented, and we were left guessing as to its quality, other than its immense graphical promise - something that presumably won’t be such a big selling point in the middle of next year once other Source-engine and Doom III engine-based games start appearing in abundance. We remain hopeful, but the delay is nevertheless not good news for THQ, a company not normally afflicted by serious slippage issues.